Stranded Nunavut couple ride out hurricane

266

Hurricane Irma roared through the Caribbean last week and Iqaluit’s Mark and Janet Crowther were in its path.

Mark and Janet Crowther of Iqaluit bask in the sun on a beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, just days before Hurricane Irma battered the Caribbean. The Crowthers were not able to get a flight out of the Caribbean island ahead of the storm. photo courtesy of Mark Crowther

Celebrating their 26th wedding anniversary at a Punta Cana resort on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, the Crowthers were forced to brave the record-breaking Category 5 storm when they couldn’t get a flight off the island.
They didn’t bear the brunt of the hurricane, with its winds reaching nearly 300 km/h, but they still felt its wrath just by being on the outer reaches of the monstrous storm, which had killed 11 people as of Sept. 7.
“Last night was one hairy ride,” Mark Crowther said by cellphone the next day, the signal occasionally breaking up.
He said he’s never witnessed a storm so vicious in his 50 years.
“It was wicked.”
The Crowthers got little sleep as they watched their patio door get clobbered by the wind on Sept. 6.
“We had furniture piled up against (the door), so we were good there,” Mark said.
The wind snapped a number of palm trees along the beach and ocean waves reached three to four metres, he added.
Remarkably, the power remained on during the night and the Crowthers maintained Internet access through their personal devices so they were able to reassure family and friends that they were OK.
The next day, resort staff were busy cleaning up from the aftermath. Mark gave them credit for precautions taken prior to the storm struck, such as boarding up some windows and putting duct tape on others, emptying swimming pools, bracing objects and having a helpful disaster plan for guests to follow.
“These guys did a magnificent job,” he said.
Many fellow guests at the resort were able to board flights out before Hurricane Irma arrived, but the Crowthers had no such luck.
“WestJet did nothing for us,” Mark said. “We’re very disappointed with them.”
The Crowthers, who used to live in Kugluktuk, were scheduled to depart Punta Cana on Sept. 14, but, as of last Thursday, they were still keeping a close eye on the next major storm: Hurricane Jose. The latest projections before Nunavut News/North’s press deadline had it veering north of the Dominican Republic.
“So we might just play things out and enjoy the next six or seven days of sun,” Mark said.